|THE LOST BUDDHIST SADHANAS PROJECT
The Lost Sadhanas project is intended to bring back knowledge of Buddhist traditions that have largely disappeared. There are of course many more lost sadhanas. But these few examples can give an idea of the alternatives.
The Bodhi Tree practices and the Jivamala allow people to walk in the footsteps of the historical Buddha. Rather than seeing him as an all-knowing sage or god, he is a person who went through a set of practices to reach liberation. These practices came from the celestial Buddhas, who are not limited by time and space. His practice was a model for future Buddhas, and practitioners who seek enlightenment.
The path of emptiness is a response to suffering and despair, and it is not appropriate for all seekers. There is another path.
That other path has fullness and bliss, as shown by the Vajra Dakini's meditations on paradise, and Maitreya's meditations on love, compassion, and friendship. This path seeks the other side of the Void, the mirror of the Clear Light which brings the individual's awareness into infinite radiance and shared joy. This too is Buddhism, though it has been largely shunted into the areas of the bodhisattvas. The great path of Mahayana includes both outlooks. Vajrayana which should be a special subtype of Mahayana, has rejected bliss in favor of emptiness, and been overly influenced by the dark caves and cold monasteries in which it has been practiced. Logic, debate, and power have dominated a tradition begun in the realms of bliss.
We reveal this so that Buddhists may have a greater understanding of the varieties of their own tradition. I value wisdom as the highest goal. So I view it as important for practitioners to know the history and development of their own tradition.
I respect those on the path of compassion and bliss, for their blessings lead ultimately to wisdom.
The greatest loss in the process of Buddhist modernization has been the loss of the intermediate or supernatural worlds, the sambhogakaya realm. This is the ladder to enlightenment that well-meaning scholars have taken away, making it much more difficult to reach the dharmakaya, the state of ultimate freedom. Without the practices of the sambhogakaya, practitioners must climb the mountains without the stairs carved into them by previous generations. The practice becomes more difficult as people are encouraged to reject superstition and accept only the aspects of Buddhism that agree with science. Buddhist modernization makes it more acceptable to the secular or scientific mind, but removes essential elements that permit deeper forms of Buddhist meditation.
People can still be liberated, but it is much more difficult. This is why the modern focus on Buddhism has shifted to ethics and politics. The maps to the realms of treasure have become decorative rather than pragmatic, and few practitioners enter the world of the mandalas that hang in their meditation rooms and dharma centers.
So this is an addition to the literature to make up for some of the problems that Buddhism has faced. It is not intended to take over. It is merely supplemental information for those who are interested.
Because it is hard to contact Buddhist deities and yidams directly today, we will give the words of deities that represent both the emptiness and the fullness schools. They give a different perspective and allow readers to see through different eyes. The Contrasting Two Buddhist Schools page will give examples of Buddhas or deities representing the two approaches.
We hope the information at this site will be helpful, and dedicate any merit that arises to helping all sentient beings.
The Lost Sadhanas Project
Conclusion - The Vajra Dakini Speaks
This site is an antidote to the overarching claims of Buddhist modernists, who seek to erase not only living beings (i.e., the Buddhist helpers in the sambhogakaya) but also whole worlds of experience. It is a form of scientific colonialism discounting the experience of the majority of Buddhists throughout Asia as primitive and superstitious. Instead of dismissing the bodies of the native peoples, modern Buddhism dismisses their beliefs and emotions. The modern awareness of how much has been lost in the destruction of indigenous cultures needs to be extended, realizing how much has been lost in the denial of the whole sambhogakaya realm, and the scorn for those who take it seriously. This denial occurs both by Western Buddhists and many modernist Tibetan Buddhist monks.
It is easy to disbelieve in bodhisattvas and dakinis that you have not met, and to accept strange and bizarre ideas about them. One need only look at medieval bestiaries to see the imaginative results of ignorance. Today, there is ignorance about the intermediate worlds and the paradise worlds, and their inhabitants.
This is why we have chosen to speak out. It is certainly both traditional and dramatic for seekers to suffer before they find the pathways inwards. But today it is ignorance of the worlds encountered after death that is causing the suffering. The claimed calm acceptance of the ending of consciousness disappears rapidly at death, with souls desperate to survive and clinging to their bodies, their accomplishments, and their memories. Death becomes a lost battle, a horror, an empty terrifying void, or a burning hell. Its fear and fascination can be seen in the prevalence and popularity of horror films in modern society.
The primary function of Vajrayana religion is to guide souls through life and death. The double vajra is the symbol of universal balance, and it brings peace amid disorder and chaos. Whether the person travels through the realms of life or death, balance is needed.
There is chaos at both birth and death. At birth, the soul (or a collection of skandhas, if you wish) must compress itself into a point, and penetrate the membrane between the worlds of consciousness and the worlds of matter. Memories must be separated out, with their karmic responsibilities weighing the soul and guiding it towards an appropriate body. There are bodies which are ready and calling for souls, and the soul which fits the body enters into it like a key going into a lock. Such calls are part of the vast network of samsara.
There is also chaos at death. Beneath the rational calm of the dying person is the body's madness and desperation to survive. It is irrational and involuntary. For those who believe that death is the ultimate end, there is bodily rebellion and desperation. It is the sort of response a person might have to drowning.
But in the distance, a star shines. Can the soul reach towards it? It is not easy. If we stay with the water metaphor, the soul must create a great wave that it can ride towards the distant light, or spin a tunnel through which it can glide. It could also swim under water to the distant light.
As the soul moves towards the distant light, the attachments and memories are spun away. It is pure awareness that reaches towards that light, in the midst of a stormy ocean.
It is the living vajra that calms the seas. It is the secret gift of the Buddhas and bodhisattvas to the Vajrayana seeker, given to the soul who is worthy. If the person has led a life of honoring wisdom and compassion, respecting life and rejecting dark passions and attachments, then he or she is worthy for conscious entrance into the afterlife.
The person becomes the center of a vast double vajra, full of brilliant light, and gains order and harmony all around. Though it is a gift, the giver is not always visible to the soul. It may see only light, or it may perceive a deity in a traditional or non-traditional form. At that point comes the great question of the afterlife: What do you want most deeply? The answer will guide the soul to its next life.
Death is the doorway to a new life, whether in embodied or disembodied form. It is a natural process, but disbelief [in the afterlife] makes the process more difficult. Buddhism prepares the soul for the future.
Returning to the problems of Buddhist modernism, no religion of compassion takes away hope for the future, and comfort for the suffering. Does a dry, scientific model of the self nurture the heart? Has Vajrayana forgotten its Mahayana roots?
Fashions in religion come and go. But when religions become dry and empty, people leave them. Thus we have the rise of those who avoid institutions, for whom initiations are not an introduction to inner guides, and instead become a set of vows to lineage rules. People become spiritual but not religious because religions have expelled religious experience.
Despite some lineages who have a fondness for my wrathful and ugly side, my path is one of beauty. The path of light shows itself in the beauty of paintings and textiles, in temples in the high mountains, in the rivers and forests through which those on the Buddhist path roam. And I can be seen when they dissolve into the clear light from which they once emerged. With spiritual light and emptiness, we have the dance of the universe, graceful and true.
The Lost Sadhanas Project
Conclusion - Maitreya Speaks
These lost sadhanas show the breadth and diversity of Buddhist practice over time. Though modern belief and ritual is much narrower, concentrating on breathing if even that, much older forms of Mahayana and Vajrayana were rich and elaborate, like fine tapestries, and yards of cloth that can fit through a tiny ring (as with certain ancient finely woven Indian shawls). Beauty and harmony were important, and the richness of life was admired.
But the emptiness school brought a minimalist aesthetic, a black and white path of suffering and limitation in a brilliant universe of color. Conquest of illusion became more important than harmony, and conquest in debate was preferred to love of persons and animals. The older ideas of purity returned, and it turned out that much of life came to be understood as impure. The rich, warm golden light of friendship and harmony was covered over by the black of renunciation and the blue of separation from the world.
My role changed from friend of humanity, and nurturer of plants and animals to Buddha who comes only after an apocalyptic war. I am neither a survivor nor a warrior. I feed the hungry and care for the sick. I play with children and rejoice in sharing and in love.
Truth is not shown by machinery that studies the brain, or by competition in debate. It is within the mind and heart, and made visible by looking inwards. My golden rays shine in the hearts of true seekers. It is love that shines beneath the dramas and sufferings of life.
These sadhanas set the record straight for some of the lesser-known forms of Buddhist practice. They encourage people to travel with their yidams, through dreams and paradises. We were closer to humanity in the past, and loved them more.
The Lost Sadhanas Project
Conclusion - The Vajra Yogini Speaks
Vajrayana is the great religion of sacrifice. Body, heart, and mind (and the substitute of speech for heart shows the modern emphasis on debate and logic) must all be dedicated to liberation. I am only a cog in the great machinery of enlightenment, but my role is important. I get rid of the rust and grime on the millions and millions of parts that move through the cosmic machinery of reincarnation each second, keeping souls from getting trapped as they move from life to death, and back to life again.
Pain and suffering are like glue. They bind hatred, greed, and ignorance to the soul. Every atom is a universe and souls must fly through these spaces without getting trapped. Not only do attachments weigh down the soul, but they are like burrs and thorns. They tear at the veils that should be transcended.
Souls are not eternal, but they bind the elements together as individual points of awareness which gather karma during an incarnation. Hatred and lust are spikes that strengthen the binding, making it ever more difficult for the soul to move freely. The dirt and grime picked up during travels also clogs the senses, making it difficult to see the true situation.
Tools need cleaning, bodies need cleaning, even rivers need cleaning as they pick up pollution over long travels. I and my yoginis are the cleaners and we tear away and remove only what is not necessary.
The lost sadhanas I have offered have been useful for purification. But for those souls who are relatively free of passion and ignorance, I offer a path of clean sight and an open heart. We move from being cleaners to being guides, opening the supernatural worlds to travelers. We give safe passage.
The Vajra Dakini's parting comments:As dakinis, we are like eagles and hawks that travel long distances bringing treasure. The writer of lost teachings is like a director of an art gallery, museum, or library. He or she display these gems, bringing the beauty of Buddhist pathways and paradises to earth.
Termas are literary treasures, valuable teachings have been lost and then once again found. In a sense, this site is a "lost and found" department, finding teachings that were hidden, lost, or believed to be destroyed and returning them to the world. Eternal teachings cannot fully disappear. They just return in another form.
While some Tibetans have glorified tertons (those who recover lost teachings), really it is a humble job. It is an extension of being a teacher but the subject that is taught now involves bringing back loved ideas to where they belong.
Please return to LostSadhanas.org in the future as it is updated and new information is added.
Please click on the [ NEXT ] link below to continue.
[ BACK ] Gaining the Diamond Body [ NEXT ] The End - Back to Introduction
Introduction | Methodology - Participant/Observer | The Bodhi Tree Sadhanas | Vajra Dakini Discussion | Vajra Dakini Commentary | Vajra Dakini Sadhanas | Vajra Yogini Commentary | Maitreya Sadhanas | Vajradhara Speaks About Yidams | Lost Sadhanas Conclusion